Excerpt: 'Lighten Up' By Peter Walsh

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It almost always takes a crisis for people to make big changes in their lives. I hear from families all the time that their loved ones— parents, spouse, friends—are wrecking their lives with clutter, that it just can't go on like this anymore. The stuff they own has damaged the happiness they want. Well, we've reached the same kind of crisis with money. Even though it may fly in the face of what we've been conditioned to believe, owning more or the pursuit of more simply is not better, for ourselves, our families, our communities, or our planet. Worse still, the "more" that we chase might just be the single biggest reason that happiness escapes us. We need to reframe our attitudes toward our stuff and our happiness. We need to rethink how we spend money and what's truly important if we want to improve the quality of our lives and the future of our families.

This very well may be the most important book I've written. Unlike my previous works, from It's All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff, which focused on physical clutter, to Enough Already!: Clear the Emotional and Mental Clutter to Create the Life You Want, which dealt with damaging mental and emotional clutter, this book comes at a time when people need to hear a clear and unambiguous message the most. It comes when tens of millions are wrestling with serious financial problems that invade every

aspect of their lives, and no matter how hard they try to change directions and find solutions, they continue to hit walls, go in reverse, or just give up entirely. It also comes at a time when record numbers report their dissatisfaction with their relationships, frustration with their job, and an overwhelming sense of unhappiness with life itself. And—like clutter—the pile of misfortune, exasperation, deferred dreams, and troubled relationships keeps accumulating. Some of you may have decluttered in the past, performed some serious spring cleaning, and invested good intentions in your attempts to organize your life. But was it all to no avail when the recession hit? Did the physical stuff get cleared out but leave a huge emotional and personal vacuum in its place? What happened? Where did you go wrong? Why couldn't those good intentions help you to avoid, at least a little bit, the ravages of the recession? The answers to those questions are in this book. And so are the straightforward solutions for turning this around for good. Some say that money is the root of all evil. I'm not a subscriber to that theory, but I do believe that our attitude to things, and especially our attitude to money, has hugely contributed to the mess we're in.

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